About diet and eczema in children

Many parents look to diet as the cause of their child’s eczema or the reason why their eczema is
getting worse. People often think that diet is easy to change and that this could help their child.
However, diet and eczema is a complicated subject and altering or restricting a child’s food intake
can have negative nutritional consequences.

For most children with eczema, food allergy or intolerance is not a factor that influences the condition of their skin.

Eczema can be made worse by a great many things in the environment, both inside and outside the home. However, for most children with eczema, food allergy or intolerance is not a factor that influences the condition of their skin, and children with eczema have only a slightly higher chance of developing a food allergy than children without eczema.

Recent research has identified that a weakened skin barrier, which is a main feature of eczema, can lead to food sensitisation through the skin – so rather than a food allergy causing the eczema, the food allergy may be a consequence of the child already having eczema.

Some foods irritate the skin by coming into contact with it – for example, acidic, spicy or salty foods, tomatoes and tomato-based sauces can all irritate the skin, but this is not the same as food allergy. Applying emollient as a barrier cream around the mouth before eating can help to protect the skin. Gently washing the hands and around the mouth after eating, and then re-applying emollient, will help to calm it down.

For more information on diet and eczema in children, please see our Diet and eczema in children factsheet